Cauliflower Steaks with Warm Corn & Poblano Salsa ♥

Cauliflower Steaks with Warm Corn & Poblano Salsa, another vegetarian supper ♥ A Veggie Venture
graphic button small size size 10 Today's easy summer supper: Thick slices of cauliflower ("steaks" we call them) roasted until golden and topped with a warm salsa of summery vegetables, poblano and corn. Very Weight Watchers Friendly, just 2 Freestyle points. Not just vegan, Vegan Done Real (with a vegan dressing). Naturally Gluten Free. graphic button small size size 10

It took me – oh dear, this is embarrassing – seven years to embrace cauliflower steaks. There's photo evidence, way back in 2011. In 2018? It's Cauliflower Steaks over and over again. They're just so, well, thrifty! When I cut up a head of cauliflower for Roasted Cauliflower (A Veggie Venture's very first recipe back in 2005!), the florets shrink so much that the cauliflower doesn't seem to go far.

Cauliflower steaks are totally different! They seem meaty and substantial, even though after the steaks are cut, there's still lots of cauliflower left over for something else. You'll definitely be looking for ways to use up the rest of the head. (Hello, cauliflower recipes!)

Cauliflower makes no list of "Mexican" vegetables although as our international food distribution system goes, I suspect that much of the cauliflower found in the U.S. is grown in Mexico. But on Day Two of our month-long Deep Mexico cooking adventure, I had a head and a half of cauliflower to use up and no surprise, turned to steaks. This was a fun, easy summer supper, healthy too, perfect for Meatless Monday or another vegetarian supper.

Summer Easy, a special collection of Less Cookin' and More Livin' recipes especially for summer ♥ KitchenParade.com all summer long.
This recipe is so quick and easy that I'm adding it to a growing collection of easy summer recipes published all summer long ever since 2009 at Kitchen Parade, my food column. With a free Kitchen Parade e-mail subscription, you'll never miss a one!


Eloisa’s Jicama & Orange Salad ♥

Eloisa's Jicama & Orange Salad, another healthy salad ♥ A Veggie Venture
graphic button small size size 10 What a special find, this jicama salad recipe from a reader in Mexico! It's quick to make and easy to keep on hand. Low Carb. Weight Watchers Friendly, Zero Freestyle Points! Not just vegan, Vegan Done Real. Naturally Gluten Free. Whole30 Friendly. And wonderfully refreshing during hot weather! graphic button small size size 10

Nothing like seven years of procrastination before taking proper note of a recipe a reader left in the comments in this recipe for Jicama Slaw. "My family in Mexico loves this recipe," Eloisa wrote. "Children love it. We take it on picnics, in lunch boxes, or as a snack in hot weather."

But we were a few days into our Deep Mexico: Ingredient-Driven Mexican Meal Prep eating and cooking adventure last month so sure enough, we had not one but two jicamas in the fridge, oranges to boot. Eloisa's Salad Time! That's the thing about focus, one of our big lessons from that month-long deep dive into Mexican (and plenty of Mexican-ish) cooking. Good eats, all month long!

Day One, Eloisa's salad fell into the Maybe-But-Probably-Not category, it was gooooood, you know, just not special, perhaps an acquired taste? Day Two, I was swooning over the fresh combination of jicama, orange and chili powder. Day Three, I had two big helpings for lunch. So give Eloisa's Jicama & Orange Salad a taste when you make it (and be sure to adjust the salt and especially the chili powder) but then put it away for a day (even two) before passing judgment. Okay? Okay!

Summer Easy, a special collection of Less Cookin' and More Livin' recipes especially for summer ♥ KitchenParade.com all summer long.
This recipe is so quick and easy that I'm adding it to a growing collection of easy summer recipes published all summer long ever since 2009 at Kitchen Parade, my food column. With a free Kitchen Parade e-mail subscription, you'll never miss a one!

My Favorite New Way to Roast Beets ♥

My Favorite New Way to Roast Beets, another time-tested technique ♥ A Veggie Venture
graphic button small size size 10 A new way to roast beets, in a moist, vinegar-y environment, turning out roasted beets that are just slightly pickled. Low Carb. Weight Watchers Freestyle Friendly. Not just vegan, Vegan Done Real. Naturally Gluten Free. Whole30 Friendly. graphic button small size size 10

Oh people, it's almost here! No ... not summer, not vacation. Beet season. And more specifically beet salad season.

Apparently I'm #NotAlone because beet salads pop up on restaurant menus #AllTheTime. (Sorry, let's hope that a good beet salad will cure a bad case of #HashTagFever ...) What's astounding to this connoisseur of beet salads is the chefs' creativity: no two beet salads are alike. What unites all those creative salads is the main ingredient: the beets. And isn't it interesting that the beets themselves are much the same?!

No more. Enter Olio, my favorite restaurant here in St. Louis.

Funny story about Olio's owner, Ben Poremba. I first wrote about him for my column in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch in 2013. A couple of years later, my husband and a new client interspersed legal talk with food talk. "You should see my son-in-law," the client raved. "He opens the fridge and a half hour later we sit down to a feast." The client's son-in-law? Ben! Small town, this St. Louis.

Anyway. Ben's great. And Olio's my kinda place.

But when I wrote about Olio's Beet Salad last summer, I was so struck how the beets were roasted, yes, but also just very slightly pickle-y ... not as pickle-y as Refrigerator Pickled Beets, say, just a tiny tickle of pickle.

And that's when My Favorite Way to Roast Beets first faced competition. Will that long-time favorite beet-roasting technique survive? You bet. But every so often, it's great to have roasted beets with just a touch of vinegary sharpness ... and then, Beet People, you pull out this recipe.

Summer Easy, a special collection of Less Cookin' and More Livin' recipes especially for summer ♥ KitchenParade.com all summer long.
This recipe is so quick and easy that I'm adding it to a growing collection of easy summer recipes published all summer long ever since 2009 at Kitchen Parade, my food column. With a free Kitchen Parade e-mail subscription, you'll never miss a one!

Deep Mexico Carrot Soup ♥ with Tomatillo & Lime

Deep Mexico Carrot Soup with Tomatillo & Lime ♥ A Veggie Venture
graphic button small size size 10 Ah soup! Serve this simple colorful carrot soup hot or cold, it's gorgeous. Low Carb. Weight Watchers Friendly. Not just vegan, Vegan Done Real. Naturally Gluten Free. Whole30 Friendly. And ... delicious! graphic button small size size 10

Something to know about me. I'm a recipe-driven cook, always have been, always will be. I admire the cooks who cock their heads, fridge door open, thinking what to make based on what's inside. But that sort of intuitive cooking is just not me. I'll vary a recipe, some times turn it upside down, but almost-almost always, I begin with a plan. Almost always, the written recipe rests right there beside me as I measure, cook and time – all the while recording what I notice, penciling in other ideas, simplifying, etc.

Who else is a recipe cook? And is anyone here, now, what I think of as an "intuitive cook"? (Let's guess: more of the former than the latter, yes? After all, intuitive cooks have less need for recipes and no doubt, in addition to inspiration, vegetable recipes are what A Veggie Venture is all about.)

But we've got this little project going on, we call it Deep Mexico: Ingredient-Driven Mexican Meal Prep – and it just might be affecting my cooking style. It's got me considering the ingredients themselves as much as their preparations. I find myself uncharacteristically consulting The Flavor Bible, a gift from friend Elise Bauer of Simply Recipes.

One thing Deep Mexico is certainly affecting is our diet: we're eating a lot more vegetables (and even before, we already ate plenty). But because we're letting what's on hand drive what we cook and eat and since we started off buying mostly vegetables, well, we're cooking and eating vegetables – plus meat from the freezer, sure – but still, lots of vegetables.

This was the first soup I made after launching Deep Mexico. Are carrots a typical Mexican ingredient? No, probably not. But a huge bag in the fridge (from before launching the project) needed a big dent so I set off to make a soup that included other Mexican-friendly ingredients and plating. Did I succeed? I think so.

This soup knocked our socks off. The tomatillos not only thicken the soup but also give it a lovely sourness that contrasts with the natural sweetness of the carrots. I feared their dull green color might muddy a carrot soup's pretty orange color but not to worry. Carrots for the win!

Celery & Chickpea Salad ♥

Celery & Chickpea Salad, another healthy salad ♥ A Veggie Venture
graphic button small size size 10 A captivating salad, a simple lemony mix of crunchy celery (extra points for celery with leaves!) and creamy chickpeas, held together with a touch of feta. Perfect for a light spring lunch or supper but also, garnished with tomato and avocado, makes an impressive platter for a potluck or dish to share. Very spring-y! Weight Watchers Friendly. Naturally Gluten Free. graphic button small size size 10

Short story here. It was the day before Thanksgiving circa mid 2000s. I was up to my elbows in green beans and pie crust but took a break to check email. "Get it RIGHT!" shouted a local reader of Kitchen Parade, then still published in print in my hometown newspaper. "Your last recipe," she wrote, "called for a stalk of celery. Unless you mean the whole damn bunch, it's a celery rib not a celery stalk!" Okay, then. Happy Thanksgiving to you too, ma'am.

But she was right! So I thanked her for the correction and wished her a very happy Thanksgiving. (And also felt a real sadness for her, that on the day before Thanksgiving, my misuse of celery terms was top of mind.) Is it any wonder that all these years later, I still think of this woman every time I cut up a stalk – or wait, a rib – of celery. So just to be clear:

A STALK of CELERY That's the whole head, some times it's called a celery bunch.

A RIB of CELERY is one of the individual pieces you pull off a head or stalk or bunch of celery.

Except? Lots of food writers didn't get the same email! So it's common to find recipes, even in big magazines, that call for "2 stalks of celery" – it's a safe bet that unless the recipe is for something like Cream of Celery Soup, what's meant is "2 ribs of celery".

For the record, this salad calls for four ribs, not four stalks! Bonus points if the celery still has its leaves!

Summer Easy, a special collection of Less Cookin' and More Livin' recipes especially for summer ♥ KitchenParade.com all summer long.
This recipe is so quick and easy that I'm adding it to a growing collection of easy summer recipes published all summer long ever since 2009 at Kitchen Parade, my food column. With a free Kitchen Parade e-mail subscription, you'll never miss a one!

Vegetables 101: What Are Crudites? ♥ How to Create a Colorful Instagram-Friendly Platter of Raw Vegetables

What Are Crudités? (And How to Build a Stunning Platter) another Vegetables 101 ♥ A Veggie Venture
graphic button small size size 10 What do we call those simple-to-stunning plates and platters and trays of colorful vegetables so often served at parties but also, in simple form, at family tables? Let's talk crudités – the what, the how, the why. Wondering what vegetables to use and how to present them beautifully? Here are my very best tips! graphic button small size size 10

BUT FIRST a QUICK POLL
(leave a quick comment, shoot me a quick email via recipes@kitchen-parade.com, slip a note into a bottle, whatever works)
graphic button small size size 10 Is there a vegetable that shows up in crudités that you absolutely avoid touching let alone eating?
graphic button small size size 10 Is there another that you steer toward, no matter what else is available?
graphic button small size size 10 If you're into crudités, do you have any surprise vegetables that you always sneak in?

WHAT ARE CRUDITÉS? Crudités are fresh, colorful and usually raw vegetables displayed attractively in some way, often on a plate or platter or interesting tray, nearly always with a dip or two. You know how grocery stores have those plastic trays with separate sections for carrots, celery and maybe some grape tomatoes? Yes, those are crudités! But trust me, we can definitely do better than that.

HOW TO PRONOUNCE CRUDITÉS? It's a French word, [pronounced kroo-de-tay, kro͞odəˈtā].

WHAT'S THE SINGULAR OF CRUDITÉS? The singular use is the same as the plural use. One crudités, two crudités. If you see the phrase "crudité" (without an s, attempting to create a singlular form) platter, the spelling is in error, the word always ends with s, singular and plural both.

IS THERE A BETTER WORD? Not that I can think of! What do you use? What do you call those veggie trays???

Sweet Cornbread ♥ Recipe

Sweet Cornbread ♥ AVeggieVenture.com, sweetened with honey, moist and tender, a total treat!
graphic button small size size 10 A classic cornbread sweetened with honey. Sweet but not too sweet. Rich but not too rich. Ever so tender. Absolutely delicious! Bake it in the traditional round shape or, for great sliced cornbread, a loaf pan. graphic button small size size 10

~recipe updated, first published way back in 2008~
~more recently updated recipes~

WAY BACK IN 2008 I worried that readers might fear that the appearance of a cornbread recipe might signal a diversion from this blog's recipe vegetables-vegetables-vegetables focus. But wait! Cornmeal originates with a vegetable, it's just field corn that's been dried and ground! I'm embarrassed to admit: cornmeal's humble origin just never registered.

Luckily, despite the lapse, it turns out that a real cornbread lover can nose out another cornbread lover. Crescent Dragonwagon, cornbread lover extraordinaire (who else would write an entire cookbook expressing one's love for cornbread?) looked me up when the Country Cornbread recipe posted to help people use up their leftover ham from Easter. Just a couple of weeks earlier, I'd shared my recipe for cornbread (you know, the single go-to recipes we call our own), the savory ever-moist Skillet Cornbread, in Kitchen Parade, my food column. I didn't even know I loved cornbread so much. But Crescent did – she even offered to send a complimentary copy of her cookbook The Cornbread Gospels.

And she was so so right! There's just so much to love about cornbread. How cornbread can save a skimpy supper. How mixing cornbread takes maybe 10 or 15 minutes. How cornbread emerges from the oven just 30 minutes later, steamy, substantial, ready for hungry folk to dig in. How cornbread is made, nearly always, from simple on-hand pantry ingredients. (I swear, The Cornbread Gospels uses the same ten ingredients again and again, turning out an astonishing variety of cornbread and racking up some 200+ recipes.) How cornbread's many variations are so different – starting with southern savory cornbreads and their northern sweeter cousins. How cornbreads' names are familiar but old-fashioned, johnnycakes, hoecakes, hush puppies, spoonbread. Especially, I love how cornbread is so very American, the staple grain fundamental to Native Americans, later to this country's early settlers, and later still, for families in the southern states, especially, of the U.S.